Signifying Nothing

The Washington Post has an editorial on why Judge Taylor’s NSA decision is such a poor work of legal reasoning. The WaPo finds the decision to be lacking in legal justification:

Judge Taylor’s opinion is certainly long on throat-clearing sound bites. “There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,” she thunders. She declares that “the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution.” And she insists that Mr. Bush has “undisputedly” violated the First and Fourth Amendments, the constitutional separation of powers, and federal surveillance law.

But the administration does, in fact, vigorously dispute these conclusions. Nor is its dispute frivolous. The NSA’s program, about which many facts are still undisclosed, exists at the nexus of inherent presidential powers, laws purporting to constrict those powers, the constitutional right of the people to be free from unreasonable surveillance, and a broad congressional authorization to use force against al-Qaeda. That authorization, the administration argues, permits the wiretapping notwithstanding existing federal surveillance law; inherent presidential powers, it suggests, allow it to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance on its own authority. You don’t have to accept either contention to acknowledge that these are complicated, difficult issues. Judge Taylor devotes a scant few pages to dismissing them, without even discussing key precedents.

It is quite clear that Judge Taylor came in with a decision already in mind. The paramount obligation of a member of the judiciary at any level is to evaluate a case in the most objective way they can. There will always be bias in the process, but that bias was so blatant in this case that it is an embarrassment to the bar itself. Judge Taylor did not objectively or fairly adjudicate the arguments presented to her, and her decision betrays a complete lack of intellectual engagement with the arguments being presented.

The Post is right — even if one disagrees with the TSP, Judge Taylor did not do her cause justice with this decision. And if a federal judge cannot provide justice, that is an indication that person does not take their job with sufficient seriousness.

One thought on “Signifying Nothing

  1. “Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”
    -MacBeth 5.5

    I like the allusion, Jy. Well done. I would comment on the politics of the situation but unless it is literary I am useless. Good luck at law school! You can bet that now you are closer to the cities you have to stand a visit from the Lyzo.

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